MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak Announces Resignation, Effective in January

MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack, wearing a blazer over a red top, stands next to Steve Poftak (center) wearing a suit and pink-and-blue plaid tie, and Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, wearing a buttoned suit and green tie. All three are holding scissors and segments of a cut orange ribbon. They stand in front of a new Orange Line train car bearing the words "OAK GROVE" on the destination sign above the door.
Former MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack (left), MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak (center) and Gov. Charlie Baker (right) cut a ribbon to commemorate the first new Orange Line train in August 2019. Photo courtesy of Joshua Qualls/Governor's Press Office.

MBTA General Manager Steven Poftak will resign from the T in January, just two days before the Commonwealth’s next governor will be sworn into office, according to a letter delivered to MBTA employees on Tuesday afternoon.

“It is with mixed emotions that I share with you the news that January 3rd, 2023 will be my last day at the MBTA,” wrote Poftak. “Serving as MBTA General
Manager has been the experience of a lifetime and it has been my honor and privilege to work with all of you.”

Poftak has led the T as its General Manager since January 1, 2019, after serving as a member of the T’s previous governing board, the Fiscal and Management Control Board, since its founding in 2015.

Poftak’s leadership has come under intense scrutiny in the past year as the T has struggled with high-profile safety incidents that have injured or killed several riders and T employees, and deteriorating service quality.

The clear front-runner in this fall’s gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate Maura Healy, had already pledged to bring in new leadership for the T if she wins the election in November.

In a transportation policy document she released this August, Healy promised to appoint a new general manager and two deputies who could oversee operations and capital planning.

“These three leaders will work closely together and collaborate to ensure that the professional know-how is there and influences every decision, while also ensuring that the (general manager) is actively involved and informed in key decision making,” the plan says.

Healy Unveils Plans to Clean Up Charlie Baker’s Messes

This spring, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that it would subject the T to a detailed “Safety Management Inspection” of the T’s maintenance and operations programs in order to force the agency to make improvements to its safety practices.

The FTA has only subjected one other transit agency to such oversight: it also audited the Metro system in Washington, D.C. in 2015, after a fire filled L’Enfant Plaza station with smoke that killed one rider and injured dozens of other riders.

In a Senate hearing held in Boston earlier this month, Senator Elizabeth Warren subjected Poftak to a withering line of questioning over his role in the T’s recent deterioration.

“The problems we’re discussing here occurred on your watch,” Warren said to Poftak.

In his resignation letter, Poftak acknowledged “we know we have more work to do on safety” but added “we have made great strides as an organization, building staffing, expertise, and above all, commitment to making the system as safe as it can be.”

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